Tag Archives: sadness

cashing my reality check

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Some days it hardly seems worthwhile, recording my thoughts.  But I feel bereft of good sense lately; my ego voice is loud and strong and my spirit whimpers under the lash.

So I slept with the Devil.  And he is all that was foretold:  seductive, winning, glorious, COMFORTABLE.  And with little hesitation, he moved on.

But somehow I feel different.  I feel that a loop was closed, a knot was tied.  And now I set about the long, long, long sojourn into my deepest self, to manufacture means of hushing the screams of outrage against the unfairness of what was once a beautiful dance.

I have substituted physical pain for psychic pain, a computer for a life.  I am pathetic.  But I am acquiring discipline in the only way I know, one day at a time.  I’ve not issued a booty call in over a week.  I am trying to ignore the taunting judgment, “He’s just not that into you.”

Perhaps the next step is to gorge on reality.  But reality is boring.  It stares me down at the end of a straight line, a box with rigid sides.  I march toward reality along the gangplank of dying dreams, to step off into an oblivion of wasted time.

Fantasy provides me a chaotic space in which to nurture my obsessions, to strive again and again toward the past, a reckless moment of abandon, a tarantella of lost reason.

Somewhere between the two extremes must lie grace.  It is always there, the quiet sweet spot, the underlayer of promise that waits and knows no limit.  I depend on grace, for I am too confused to find my horizon.

I will say this:  I do live my life.  I don’t hold back.  I know that somewhere a sunny beach with warm sand is waiting for my body.  Mother Ocean pipes her sweet lullabye and the stars will gather to listen.

So I will try to use my time as best I can, do my job, pay my bills, nurture my soul and allow God to show me The Path.

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Fight Back

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Write the feelings down on a piece of paper, fold it into an airplane and make it fly. Play music and dance. Trace the outline of your hand on the wall and color it in. Tell someone you love them. Sing. Pray. Be visible. Be alive.

Scott Bennie’s Thoughts on Depression and Anxiety

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… depression is a disconnection of one’s emotions from the real world. It isn’t just melancholy or feeling down, it’s your emotional telephone dangling off the cradle while your hands are too weak and useless to put it back where it should be.

Attempting either to give pep talks or use “tough love” to people who suffer from depression rarely if ever works. If it was that easy to get people out of it, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

Anxiety is taking the panic button in one’s head, that impulse that tells you that you’re about to die, and holding it down. You have no idea why it’s being pressed, you feel incredibly weak and stupid and foolish that it’s being pressed, to the point where you feel useless and worthless — and it still won’t go away.

A prolonged anxiety attack is the closest thing to a living hell that I know. They’re a scream that doesn’t stop which drowns out all sounds except the panic and the accompanying feelings of worthlessness, and it’s nearly impossible to get any message through that noise until the trigger stops being pressed.

~ Scott Bennie

reassembled

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I feel like I am finally getting back to the little spot of now, the quiet sweet spot that constantly changes but never moves. When panic erupts it shatters me into fragments that land all across the spectrum of time, and through love and grace, I am reassembled, a little weary, but hopeful.

Permanent

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I am not a boy.

I have straight, dark hair.

I am four.  My best friend is beautiful. And I am not.

She makes me sit in a chair.
She pulls my hair and twists it around tiny plastic things.
I like to play with the little sheets of tissue paper.

Sit still, she says.
Here, you can hand these to me, one at a time.

I feel important.  I am helping her.

I don’t like the cold dripping down my neck.
I don’t like the smell.
It’s hard for me to breathe.

But she looks determined and certain.  This will make you beautiful, she says.

The plastic things are sticking into my head.
I want to scratch but she says no.
Just a little longer and you will be beautiful.

I want to be beautiful.  Then she will love me.

She pulls a chair to the sink and pushes my head under the faucet.
The water is warm and feels so good I want to stay there forever.

But I have to be neutralized first.

I am wet and cold and the skin of my head feels like a blister.
But she squirts the neutralizer onto my head.
We’re almost done, she says.

The sun is shining.  I can see the lawn through the glass door.
My friend comes to the door.  She is beautiful.

But I cannot go outside.

I am not beautiful yet.

aging parents

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My Dad has just become increasingly frail but continues to try to do things like put the trash bin on the curb and cut the grass.  He’s always been a hard worker and is happiest when he’s doing physical things.  He complains bitterly of being tired and when he does get up and try to do something it’s to be celebrated.  It’s just that he puts himself at risk so often.

The other thing is he has always been sort of reclusive and with each passing year leaves home less and less.  He is anxious when my mother leaves him.  And she is anxious when she leaves him as well.  She used to go out once a week and play cards and volunteer at the church but she has pretty much given up her social life to run around after him.

Decades ago my brother offered to build them a house near him where he lives, which is about 30-40 min from where they are now.  We’ve pleaded with them to move out of that house they live in now, that they bought in 1969.  It’s on a steep hill, so the driveway is as well. 

Both front and back steps are tiny little concrete pads with no handrails — the back is especially dangerous.  My Mom suffers from vertigo and recently fell coming down the attic stairs, knocking my Dad on the floor.  She sprained her ankle and he hit his head on the tile.

I think you get the picture.

Then there’s the mental illness part of this.  My mother is afraid of doctors and mistrusts all medication.  So she tinkers with both Dad’s and her own drugs.  She only takes a fourth of her antidepressant and she takes it like a tranquilizer.  She cannot comprehend that it’s not that, nor a narcotic, and that it needs to be taken just like her blood pressure medicine.

She has dismissed sitters, who would at least make sure they got their meds and would get her out of the house now and then.  She is unwilling to go up against Dad, who doesn’t want to move, to get them into at least a retirement community, OFF THAT DAMN HILL.

She calls us in turn, telling us all that no one else pays any attention to her (we all check in regularly) to say that she is very sick.  Yet when we manage to squeeze out 2-3 hours from our schedule to make the trip to visit, she either disappears into the kitchen or the bedroom or sits down and tells us every thing is fine.  This makes both of us crazy, and simply mystifies the rest of the family.

So my brother woke me up last week worried about Mom, and after investigation it was determined that she’s simply now picked him as her current rescuer.  She’s even called my ex from time to time.  It’s insane, and my brother and I have just had about enough.  So I took a day to talk to my peeps and even went to the church and ended up having a pastor pray with me.  But I think we have a rough plan in place, and have agreed to intervene with Mom and Dad AS A FAMILY, which is something new for us.

Mom has always been the gatekeeper of all the family relationships and she has always been threatened whenever any one of us appeared to have a relationship that didn’t include her.  She is very controlling while appearing sweet and guileless.  She’s a master manipulator. 

While she and Dad have very real issues that concern us all, she has sabotaged any attempts of aid, pits us against each other and has succeeded in alienating us all from each other until just the last few years.  It’s a real testament to her, though, because she’s always ensured that we meet at her house at least half a dozen times a year or more for family dinners, and over the years at least we remember who each other are.

And we love each other, all of us, through thick or thin, through the spats and the silent treatment.  We are family, and we all have that value in common – we stick together.

Sunday Morning ~ Jack Grapes

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Sunday morning. Spring. I wake to the sun lifting one leg over the top of the Ticor Building on Wilshire Boulevard. The new leaves on the tree outside my bedroom window are tinged with sunlight. If only I were a photographer or painter I’d freeze this moment and crawl into it.

Sunday morning. I have to get up but my body wants to drown right here in the bed. Spring ambles up the street waving its arms. A matinee today. I have to be at the theater by two. Yesterday, I find out from my agent that I didn’t get the part I was counting on.

Eat this, they say.
It’s good for you.
You’ve eaten it before.
The next one will be sweet.

I eat and concentrate on the window, on the tree, on the sun beginning to beat its chest as it comes over the top of the tallest building.

I drive down Beverly Boulevard, take the curve where it changes into 1st Street, turn on Grand and park right across from the museum. It’s just after ten, hardly any cars on the street. MOCA doesn’t open till eleven. The sun has followed me all the way, reflecting off the Security Pacific Bank Building, glass and steel going all the way up.

I get off on this urban sleekness, especially the unfinished building across the street, another skeleton of steel and concrete. Someone should stick a sign on it, make it part of MOCA, part of the Permanent Collection, and leave it just as it is, unfinished. No clear line where the museum ends and the rest of the city begins. One easy flow, stretching all the way back into our homes, into the very center of our lives.

I walk past the California Plaza sign, running my hand along the chrome and glass, then head downstairs for a cup of coffee and cinnamon roll at the “Il Panino.” There’s a girl two tables over, in the sun. We both drink our coffee in silence, checking our watches, writing something down in our journals.

She’s an art student from Santa Barbara come to see the Jasper Johns. She asks what am I here to see. “Oh,” I say, “the art. Just the art. I don’t care. Just something.”

I AM FIVE YEARS OLD.
I don’t understand anything.
Hot and humid days;
nights, dark and mysterious.
They take me to school.
I stare at the blackboard.
The kid from around the corner beats me up at recess.
Some nights my father doesn’t come home.

My mother shrieks on the telephone.
My pet turtle dries up in the sun.
My uncle dies on the floor in the empty kitchen.
Who is the world?
Why is the moon where the sun is?
If the street goes nowhere, why is it in my bed?
What is the rain that rains just rain,
and why does it rain crows, or bats, or baseball gloves?
How is the pencil writing my name,
and why is my name the name for the thing that fixes tires,
the name for the flag on the pirate ship,
the name for the clown crushed in the box?
Outside, the kids continue to jump rope on the sidewalk,
singing, “A my name is Alice,”
seeing everything, but knowing nothing.

I AM SIX.
The class takes a bus with Miss Cook
to the Delgado Museum on Elysian Fields Avenue.
We’re going to see Vincent Van Gogh.
Later, when I tell my mother,
who was born in Antwerp,
she says to say it like this,
Vincent Van Gough,
and she coughs as she says it.
Van Gough! Van Gough!.
But Miss Cook says Van Go.
We are marched single-file from one room to another,
walking past each painting that hangs just above our heads.

Vincent van GoghI look up at the painting.
I can’t believe what I am seeing.
Everything mysterious and horrible about the world vanishes.
He paints like I paint!
Trees outlined in black.
All those wavy lines, all those colors.
And he piles the paint on.
He’s wasting all that paint,
just like I did before they told me not to waste all the paint.


He sees everything I see.
The moon is where the sun is.
The street that goes nowhere is in his bed.
It’s not just raining rain,
it’s raining crows and bats.
He sees the blood, he sees the faces.
Everything so bright it’s on fire.
Everything so dark it swallows me up.
The man cuts his ear off.
The man leans against the table so sad.
The man dies on the floor of the empty kitchen.


I stop in front of the painting with crows above a cornfield.
The world I see is real.
I bring my hand up and touch the dried paint.
It’s real!
Mounds of paint,
swirls of paint,
rivers of paint!


But it’s not paint.
It’s real.
It’s the world.

“Don’t touch the painting!” Miss Cook yells.
She pulls my hand away.
She yanks my arm into the center of the room.
“Never ever touch a painting!”
She shoves me into a seat in the back of the bus.
It doesn’t matter.
The world is real.
I fold my hands in my lap.
I know what I will do.

I will write about the real world.



Frank Gehry11 o’clock. The girl heads off toward the Jasper Johns. I walk into the J. Paul Getty Trust Gallery and find the Geary cardboard chairs and cardboard houses. “Can I sit in them?” I ask the guard. “They can be sat in,” he says, “but you can’t sit in them.”

“Oh,” I say, and walk into the room with the huge pavilion shaped like a fish. I walk into the belly of the fish. The wood inside is so beautiful.

“Don’t touch the wood, please,” says the guard.

I wander over to the Nauman video. A clown is being tortured on simultaneous video screens. “Clown Torture,” it’s called. Later, in the Permanent Collection, I bump into the girl from Santa Barbara. In the center of the room, a metal sculpture of a man moves his motorized mouth up and down. A silent

YAK

YAK

YAK

This, I understand. I stand as close to it as I can. The guard watches me suspiciously.

Over in the North Gallery there’s an empty spot in one corner. Something was there, but it’s been                 removed. I make a sign for myself and hang it around my neck. I stand in the corner of the Permanent Collection, North Gallery, as still as I can, one arm out in the gesture of an actor about to speak.

Eat this.
You’ve eaten it before.
The next one will be sweet.
The street that goes nowhere is in your bed.
You know nothing,
but you can see everything.

A woman and her little girl walk up to me. “What does the sign say?” the girl asks.

“Touch me,” her mother says. “The sign says touch me.”

So the child reaches out a hand and touches my own.

by Jack Grapes